Yesterday, over fifty vendors—butchers, bakers, wine makers, restaurants, and more—gathered under the FDR Drive on South Street, on the grounds of the original South Street Seaport, for the latest installment of the New Amsterdam Market.
This was my second trip to the New Amsterdam Market since moving to New York. It's been held monthly over the summer, but will start up every weekend starting in September. The day was overcast and humid, and thankfully, I beat it home before the sky really opened up. But rain or shine, I wasn't going to miss the ice cream tasting extravaganza they were hosting. (There was also an heirloom tomato tasting, but you say tomato... I say ice cream.) And for $20 you received six samples--served in darling miniature sugar cones--from among 15-plus flavors being offered from six local ice cream purveyors.
The scoop, after the jump.
The Bent Spoon (Princeton, NJ)
Featured Flavors: Fresh Ricotta, Bourbon Vanilla Sea Salt Caramel, Nectarine Sorbet
Bonus Flavors: Heirloom Tomato-Peach Sorbet, Concord Grape Sorbet
This wasn't a contest, but The Bent Spoon was the winner for me. From the super-friendly server who enthusiastically described the provenance of the wild grapes used in their sorbet, to their generosity with the samples. (Plus, they brought two bonus flavors.) I was tempted to cash in all of my ice cream tickets just to try them all. The Concord Grape sorbet was bursting with grape flavor and was one of the creamiest fruit ice creams I've ever tasted. And you had to love how they tipped their hat to the tomato tasting with their Heirloom Tomato-Peach sorbet, probably my favorite taste of the day.
Marlow & Daughters (Brooklyn, NY)
Featured Flavors: Sweet Corn, Anise Hyssop, Lemon Verbena
The Marlow & Daughters booth was my first stop of the day. I was leaning toward Sweet Corn but decided to try Anise Hyssop, and it was delightfully herbaceous--a great way to get my palate ready for the flavors ahead. Marlow & Daughters were also serving some savory offerings, including pulled pork sliders and roasted plums with honey cornbread.
MilkMade Ice Cream (New York, NY)
Featured Flavors: Blackberry & Gingersnap, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie
I'm glad I finally got to try MilkMade Ice Cream because, unfortunately, I don't think I could afford to join their pricey membership-only at-home-delivery service ($50 for one hand-delivered pint per month, for three months). Normally, I would lean toward the chocolate-peanut butter camp, but I was looking to take advantage of trying any out-of-the-ordinary flavors. The Blackberry & Gingersnap was more fruity than spicy—refreshing, but I'm not sure I'd drop $16 for a pint (even delivered to my door).
Roberta's (Brooklyn, NY)
Featured Flavors: Grange Sorrel, Duck Egg, Sweet Corn, Husk Cherry
The gelato from Roberta's, the popular Bushwick pizzeria, definitely topped the chart in terms of originality. I truly wanted to try them all. Going on the server's recommendations I tried the refreshingly sour Grange Sorrel, a flavor I would probably never order on my own out in the wild, but something I was eager to sample. On a second pass I introduced myself to Pamela Yung, the pastry chef at Roberta's, who broke me off with a bonus taste of Husk Cherry. Also known as ground cherries or cape gooseberries, the husk cherry has the texture of a cherry tomato but pops with a honey-pineapple sweetness. After knocking back the Husk Cherry ice cream I immediately scooped up two pints of husk cherries from a nearby vendor for some at-home cocktail experiments.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream (New York, NY)
Featured Flavors:Chocolate, Pistachio, Currants & Cream
Van Leeuwen's butter-yellow ice cream trucks are parked throughout the city scoping up artisanal ice cream. You might think that offering Chocolate and Pistachio is a little pedestrian but honoring their best-quality ingredients makes the purity of these elemental flavors really shine. But, since I have a pint of their Pistachio sitting in my freezer at home, I decided to try their more adventurous Currants & Cream. The tiny currants are sourced from the Hudson Valley and the cut through the rich cream with a tart crunch.
Early Bird Cookery (Cochecton, NY)
Featured Flavors: Roasted Pear, Beet, Hay
Dear Early Bird Cookery, I owe you an apology. I somehow missed your booth. I didn't realize this until after I got back to Brooklyn and discovered an extra ice cream ticket in my pocket. I'm not sure how this happened. I'm not one to overlook ice cream samples, but I think it was because the crowds were jammed around the middle stalls forcing me to abort my stall by stall approach. And I really want to know what Hay ice cream tastes like. (Please let me know in the comments if you sampled anything from Early Bird Cookery.)
Along with sticky fingers (ice cream vendors--please offer napkins with your samples!) I left with a canvas tote filled with ground cherries, apples, peaches, and a custom-built wooden crate for my bike from Bowery Lane Bicycles. This was a great way to sample some pretty inventive regional ice cream at one stop. And, elbow to elbow with fellow food lovers, it put the "social" in ice cream social.
About the author: Brad Thomas Parsons is a Brooklyn-based writer who has interviewed many of the food world's biggest names, including David Chang, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Danny Meyer, Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, Paula Deen, and Giada De Laurentiis, among others. He is currently at work on his first book, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails and Recipes.